70130 Travel Guide
It's been a while since we last checked in on the U.S. development plans for AC Hotels by Marriott but boy, are we glad we did. That's because we've discovered that the first AC Hotel for the U.S. won't be opening in Miami Beach.
Instead, Antonio Catalan's design forward boutique hotel concept will open inside the former Cotton Exchange Building in New Orleans in October. Miami Beach will follow in late 2014/early 2015 as will Kansas City.
So now, let's take a closer look at what to expect for the AC in NOLA. Looking at the hotel's website, there isn't much to go on from a visual standpoint. We've got a shot of the exterior of the building--a National Historic Landmark built in 1871, as well as a photo of the lobby, the AC Kitchen restaurant, the bar and the suave AC Lounge area, where all the action should be happening.
We're loving the glass bar that extends from the wall to the ceiling but we're also anxious to see a guest room too. Unfortunately, there aren't any shots of those but we do know that free WiFi will be found throughout the property.
Recently, we've had hotel share their secrets for keeping royal families happy as well as their 10 commandments for keeping luxury hotel guests happy. Today, we've got a new set of tips from a hotel--The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. But their list deals with a different kind of VIP--the film industry. And yes, that includes celebrities.
The Windsor Court has hosted pretty much every major film and music star from Brad and Angie to Beyonce (who stayed there for her Super Bowl performance last year) to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, annual attendees of the Jazz Fest. And they typically stay in the hotel's best suite--The Presidential Suite on the 22nd floor.
With 2,700-sq.ft. of space, the suite has two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a full kitchen and dining room, two living rooms, a butler's pantry, a full entertainment center, original artwork, two private landscaped terraces and a baby grand piano that's been tinkered on by Billy Joel. Penthouse guests get to enjoy the perks of the hotel's Club Lounge which has dedicated concierge service and daily food offerings. Rates typically start at $4,500 a night which, let's be real, is chump change for these A-List folks .
But putting up celebs in the best digs is only part of the job. The rest is coordinating with the production companies, the assistants and the entourages.
Here, The Windsor Court Hotel's general manager, David Teich, dishes out his 10 Commandments for Hosting Film Stars:
1. First commandment to hosting celebrities, film industry and VIPs is that privacy is key. Treat all guests with respect – absolutely no photos, autographs, social media, etc.
2. Prior to arrival, it is important to have one key point of contact, i.e. a guest relations manager or customer experience manager, to ensure that all details/pre-needs are known.
3. Keep communication open with local production teams so the hotel knows of schedule changes as well as comings and goings of the guest.
Hotel Desserts / Hotel Restaurants / Sheraton Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / Louisiana Hotels / → All Tags
Last Friday seems the whole country went nuts over National Donut Day. Even we moseyed on by the Doughnut Plant at the Chelsea Hotel for our favorite tres leches variety (and get a free Classic Mini Cake doughnut with Carnival sprinkles!). Oh, and we may have taken advantage of the “buy a drink, get a donut free” deal at Dunkin’. Yeah, it was a good sugar-filled day.
However, if you live in New Orleans, you’re one lucky duck. See, every Friday from 9-11 a.m. for the rest of the month, the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel will celebrate the city’s original ode to the donut—the beignet—by serving them at their Roux Bistro restaurant for only $5 (regularly $7).
For those who've never tried one of these delectable pastries, know the treat, introduced in N’awlins in the 18th century, is a yeasty, deep-fried, square creation covered with tons of powdered sugar. Word to the wise? Don’t wear a black shirt while chowing down on these babies.
Hotel Renovations / W Hotels / Starwood Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / Hotel Bars / Hotel Restaurants / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
Last summer, we reported on on the W New Orleans - French Quarter's $9 million renovations, which are part of W's larger plan to update 11 of their North American properties, including outposts in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
As the brand continues to expand internationally (new W's are popping up in Bangkok, Milan, Singapore, and Verbier), the idea seems to be to get back to what made the brand so innovative and aspirational in the first place, playing on its strengths of incorporating local elements, like food and music, into the experience. (We've also heard they hope to reinvigorate their in-house spa concept, as well, which could definitely use it.)
So if going local is the goal, then the NOLA property ought to fit right in. Set in the French Quarter (there's also another W near the Warehouse District), the property's 97 rooms were redesigned by NYC-based Nemaworkshop to reflect two iconic aspects of the city: jazz and voodoo.
Read on to take a look at some of the rooms!
Hotel Openings / Hotel Rebrandings / New Orleans Hotels / Four Points by Sheraton / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Although we are a little tardy for the party, we had to let you all know that the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter opened its doors in June on the very party-friendly Bourbon Street.
The space formerly called the Inn on Bourbon was previously owned by Ramada. Now rebranded as The Four Points, the hotel has 186 rooms, a swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness center, copy/fax center, and free WiFi. Of course, location means everything in New Orleans, and the hotel is in the middle of the action. It’s walking distance to several of the French Quarter’s hot spots, or should we say cool spots, like the House of Blues, the Saenger Theater, Armstrong Park and the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Harrah’s Casino is only a mile away.
W Hotels / Hotel Uniforms / Designer Hotel Uniforms / Jay Godfrey / New Orleans Hotels / Hotel Renovations / → All Tags
Ed. Note: We had to pull the images of the new uniforms per Starwood's request. When we get an approved photo we'll put it back up here!
It turns out that the hotel’s uniforms will also get a little updating from Jay Godfrey who has transformed the regular hotel uniforms into stylish, sleek outfits. Now, the staff will look pretty spiffy while work continues on the renovated guestrooms as well as the hotel’s new restaurant, and bar.
As you can see in the before and after photos, The staff at the W French Quarter will now wear European-style suits with a flattering slimmer shape. The guys will have skinny ties with complementing tie clips, and the ladies will wear pencil skirts with chic jackets. They can accessorize their uniforms with fashionable jewelry.
Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar in one of it early incarnations, circa 1970
We’ve never denied our love for revolving restaurants, even in the face of risky business. But our love for revolving restos really extends to all things revolutionary at hotels, including bars (is there a better way to see all the liquor?). And our latest fixation took us to New Orleans where the Hotel Monteleone’s historic Carousel Bar and Lounge is now fresh as ever.
Earlier this year, the 63-year old Carousel Bar completed a huge renovation that basically blew out the dark and drab, and replaced it with fresh colors and updates, including a new pewter bar under a more brightly lit carousel top. It still rotates at a snails pace, but what are you gonna do? When drinking is involved, that seems just about the right speed.
There's another jazzy reason to stay in New Orleans' famed French Quarter--the stylin' new rooms W Hotel.
The hotel just announced that rooms on the first floor of the hotel have been completed. The rest of the hotel will continue the $9 million renovations until the end of July.
Rooms have been designed around two important themes in the Crescent City--jazz and "the mystery of the tarot." So what you can expect are a "palate of clean lines and modern blacks and whites mixed with vibrant gold tones and rich primary colors." Also, pillows shaped like bowties!
The hotel is also redoing their hallways, putting new check-in desks in the Living Room/lobby and adding a new W Sweat fitness center. The hotel's modern Creole saloon, SoBou, got some makeover and reconstruction love too and will serve Creole dishes with classic cocktails alongside self-serve wine dispensing machines and a beer garden with beer booths
Hotel Amenities / Bathroom Tuesdays / Hotel Bathrooms / Hotel Toiletries / Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Bars / New Orleans Hotels / → All Tags
We already showed you one of our favorite things from the Windsor Court New Orleans last week. But for those of you (like us) who don't have several grand to spend on a bottle of wine, there are a few more treats in store.
Downstairs, at the hotel's brand new cocktail bar (aptly named...Cocktail Bar), expert mixologist Christine Jeanine Nielsen whips up some pretty nifty tipples. According to her, the most popular is the Firm Handshake (above left, $10), which includes single barrel Bourbon, ginger root tea, maple syrup and bitters. But, crazy beet-loving folks that we are, none got us as excited as a pisco, agave and lemon concoction that's made with fresh beet juice (above right, $9). Sure beets the price of a cocktail in New York!
For the Sake of Hotel Art / Hotel Art / Renaissance Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / Hotel Lobbies / → All Tags
Lots of hotel lobbies are trying to be hipper, cooler, and more action-packed these days. And while the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel is not necessarily any of those things, we were repeatedly lured out of our room to enjoy the hotel's indoor sculpture garden, an eclectic collection of local art nestled among plenty of plants and trees on the mezzanine level.
Housed under a giant glass ceiling, the entire atrium gets plenty of natural light, and all the rooms look down onto the garden. The open design means some guests can look out at the sculptures from their rooms, but why would you want to limit yourself like that?
With all the light pouring down from above, and all the leafage framing the art, strolling around the "garden" actually feels like being outside.
Just off of Canal Street in New Orleans, The Windsor Court is an opulent 23-story property that touts itself as "the only four star/four diamond hotel in New Orleans." And fresh out of a recent $22 million renovation of the rooms, suites, Club Lounge, lobby and pool area, things have gotten even more shiny and plush.
But it's the dining scene here that's really won the hotel recognition over the years. Plenty of in-the-know wine drinkers show up here to sample quality wines sourced from around the world—though first, they have to sort through the hotel's slightly intimidating menu. Or, if you're us, you'll get to physically walk through the wine cellar, having various bottles pointed out to you by the hotel's F&B director.
See some of our favorite finds below!
Forget using an iPad 2 to connect to a hotel's services. At the Hotel Monteleone, all you need to get keyed in is your smartphone. The hotel has started a new Mobile Passport program that will give you access to your reservation—including room type, confirmation number, arrival/departure dates and room number—as well as e-concierge services from your iPhone or Android.
The way it works is that upon booking a reservation at the Hotel Monteleone, leave your email address. Then you'll receive a confirmation email and a personalized link to the Mobile Passport so you can start planning your stay right away.